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Pentagon memorial planned


Nearly 2,500 individuals or groups, including 116 from Maryland, have registered their intent to take part in an international competition to design an outdoor memorial honoring victims of the Sept. 11 attack at the Pentagon.

Registrations have been made by people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as well as 50 other countries on six continents. Sept. 4 was the deadline to register.

"We believe that each entry honors those who died, so we're really thrilled by the numbers," said Mary Beth Thompson, spokeswoman for the Baltimore district office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is managing the memorial project for the Department of Defense.

The Army Corps launched the competition in June, identifying as the location for the memorial a 2-acre parcel near the site where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, resulting in 189 deaths.

Prospective participants have been told that the memorial must "embody the deeply personal tragedy that the events of that day visited on the families of the victims" as well as celebrate the "principles of liberty and freedom that this terrible event reawakened."

Plans call for visitors to have access to the memorial from the Pentagon subway stop or by walking through a tunnel that links a parking lot and the Pentagon area.

The winning entry must integrate "physical constraints" to keep visitors 165 feet away from the Pentagon, however, and "no memorial should be tall enough to strike the Pentagon should the memorial for any reason fall toward the building," according to material prepared for competition participants.

The competition was free and open to anyone, from schoolchildren to professional artists, architects and landscape architects. Thompson said the Army Corps had originally announced a registration deadline of Aug. 23 but extended it to Sept. 4 after receiving inquiries from people who learned about the competition in late August and still wanted to participate.

"We're still getting phone calls from people saying they just found out about it," Thompson said last week. But "we had to stop it at some point."

As of Friday, there were 2,456 registrations. Registrants now have until Wednesday to submit a 30-inch by 40-inch board outlining their vision for the memorial. From those submissions, as many as five finalists will be selected in October to take several more weeks to develop their visions in greater detail.

All of the finalists will receive stipends of $20,000 to defray the costs of developing and presenting their designs. A winner will be selected in December.

Thompson said the first round of entries will be judged starting in late September, and the registrants must remain anonymous until then, under the terms of the competition.

But based on information submitted by the registrants, the middle Atlantic region is well represented, with 72 registrants coming from the District of Columbia and 205 coming from Virginia in addition to the 116 from Maryland. New York had 240.

Registrants didn't have to give their credentials, but it is clear from the entries that many are affiliated with schools or universities, while some are design professionals, and others have no background in design.

Thompson said one-third to one-half of those who register are expected to submit a design by Wednesday. That means judges may have between 800 and 1,200 entries to review.

"From what we understand from our competition consultants, that's a fairly large number," she said. Competitions typically are considered large if they draw between 300 and 500 entries, she added.

The jury will be composed of professionals, government representatives and victims' family members. The list tentatively includes Harold Brown, former secretary of defense; Wendy Chamberlain, family member; Walter Hood, landscape architect with the University of California at Berkeley; Carlos Jimenez, professor of architecture at Rice University in Houston; and Melvin R. Laird, former secretary of defense.

Also, Roger Martin, landscape architect and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota; Mary Miss, artist; Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Carolyn Shelton, the wife of Gen. Henry H. Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia.

The crash of Flight 77 resulted in the deaths of 64 passengers and crew members aboard the aircraft and 125 service members and civilians at the Pentagon.

The Pentagon memorial is one of several planned to honor victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, along with projects in lower Manhattan and western Pennsylvania. Officials in Arlington County, Va., where the Pentagon is located, also plan a memorial, as does the U.S. Air Force and Arlington National Cemetery.

Planners say they would like to have the Pentagon memorial finished and open to the public by Sept. 11, 2003, but the actual timetable is likely to depend on the design selected.

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